Archive for Saturday, September 8, 2001

Kyle Grady story for GameDay

September 8, 2001

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They're the eight to dozen people -- each wearing replica KU jersey No. 65 -- tailgating in a tent outside Memorial Stadium before the game and sitting in the bleachers making noise during the game.

"My mom, dad, grandparents, sister, cousins," Grady said of his cheering section from Mesquite, Texas, who head to Lawrence to watch the 6-foot-5, 305-pound junior play offensive guard for the Jayhawks. "I think we'll have 10 here this game. They say they wouldn't miss it."

As many as 10 Gradys will be on hand today to watch KU's medical marvel start and play significant minutes against UCLA.

Grady dislocated his right kneecap in practice a couple days after last year's season-opening loss at SMU.

He returned for the Oklahoma game, but re-injured the knee -- this time seriously -- and missed the remainder of the 2000 season following reconstructive surgery.

"I know I'm very fortunate to be in the position I am, to do what I'm doing," said Grady.

Grady was supposed to miss about a year. Instead he was back on his feet running four months after last October's surgery.

"It was pretty bad surgery -- ACL, MCL and both medial and lateral cartilage tears," he said. "For me to come back in nine months, I'm really pleased with that. The coaches are still kind of afraid to put me out there. They don't want me to come back too soon."

Indeed, KU's coaches have been cautious with Grady, rotating fellow Texan Jason Stevenson at the position.

"It's still not 100 percent. The knee gets tired on him," KU coach Terry Allen said of Grady. "Give him 'courage credit' for coming back as quickly as he has from that injury."

It wasn't all that difficult, Grady said.

"The pain after surgery was excruciating. The pain during rehab was not that bad," he said. "I just spent a lot of time in the training room doing everything they told me to do.

"I'm a 'Let me go out and get it done' kind of guy. Just get out of my way and if I'm hurting I'll let you know."

Grady wants to play as much as possible today against UCLA.

It could be the biggest game of his career.

"We said all along if we win this game it'll put us on the map. We'll get a lot of respect from people around the country," Grady said. "A big crowd ... national TV ... it's a big game."

UCLA has a stout defensive line.

"They are big, strong and very good pass rushers," Grady said. "They have several candidates up for awards -- linebackers, defensive backs, linemen. I think they will probably be some of the best linemen we'll face all year."

UCLA linebackers Robert Thomas and Ryan Nece are on the Butkus Award pre-season watch list. Lineman Kenyon Coleman joins Thomas on the Lombardi Award list. Senior free safety Marques Anderson and junior corner Ricky Manning Jr. are on the preseason Jim Thorpe Award list.

KU's offensive line was criticized for last week's effort against Southwest Missouri State. The Jayhawks rushed for 102 yards 37 carries in a 24-10 victory over the NCAA Div. I-AA school.

"It ticks us off. It makes us feel we didn't get the job done," Grady said of criticism. "It's up to us to prove this week we can run the football. If we can run it against them, we can run it against anybody."

-- Assistant sports editor Gary Bedore can be reached at 832-7186.

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